Gathering on privately owned property: An analysis of the Regulation of Gatherings Act 205 of 1993

Moses, Liam Nicolas (2018-03)

Thesis (LLM)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT : One of the primary reasons for the promulgation of the Regulation of Gatherings Act 205 of 1993 (“Gatherings Act”) was to repeal certain statutes that heavily restricted the ability of people to protest before and during apartheid. These apartheid-era statutes granted various state functionaries the power to prohibit gatherings. The end of apartheid indicated a break from the heavily restricted manner in which assemblies were regulated. The move away from the restrictive regulation of protests towards the constitutional protection of protests started with the establishment of the Goldstone Commission, and the protection of the right to assemble and demonstrate in the Interim Constitution of 1993. This was followed by the promulgation of the Gatherings Act and the recognition and protection of the right to assemble and demonstrate in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996. The definition of a gathering in section 1 of the Gatherings Act and its relationship with privately owned property received renewed attention when student protests across the country flared up in 2015. The increase of student protests led to the main research question of this thesis: whether the definition of a gathering in the Gatherings Act extends to privately owned property. If it does, the second question is whether the Gatherings Act permits a deprivation of property in conflict with section 25(1) of the Constitution. With regard to the first question, case law and academic commentary indicate that the Gatherings Act does indeed extend to privately owned property. The Gatherings Act will, however, only extend to private owned property if it is accessible to the public, and if it is open-air or not confined to the walls of a building. The second question required an extensive analysis of case law and academic commentary on section 25(1) of the Constitution. It was found that only private owners may rely on section 25(1), and the actions typically associated with gatherings would be sufficient for a gathering to amount to a deprivation of their property. It is easier for the deprivation permitted by the Gatherings Act to comply with two of the three requirements for a valid deprivation: that the deprivation be in terms of law of general application and that it be procedurally non-arbitrary. The third of these requirements – that the deprivation be substantively non-arbitrary – was more complicated, because determining the substantive non-arbitrariness would depend on the facts of each case. In this regard, courts should determine substantive non-arbitrariness with reference to the complexity of constitutional rights being invoked during a gathering, but more significantly, the importance of holding a gathering in close proximity to privately owned property. This thesis thus concluded that the need for a new framework for the regulation of Gatherings in the new constitutional dispensation was necessary, especially given the manner in which protests were regulated before and during apartheid. The Gatherings Act serves as this new legislative framework, and extends to gatherings held on privately owned property in certain circumstances. It was found that while the Gatherings Act may permit a deprivation of property, this deprivation may be justified, depending largely on the content of the gathering itself.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Een van die hoofredes vir die verordening van die Wet op die Regulering van Byeenkomste 205 van 1993 ("Byeenkomstewet") was om sekere wetgewing te herroep wat mense verbied het om voor en tydens die era van apartheid te protesteer. Hierdie apartheidswetgewing het aan verskeie staatsinstellings die mag verleen om byeenkomste te verbied. Die einde van apartheid het 'n breek met die verlede aangedui met betrekking tot die wyse waarop byeenkomste gereguleer was. Die wegbeweeg van die streng regulering van protes tot die grondwetlike beskerming van protes het begin met die instelling van die Goldstone-kommissie en die beskerming van die reg om te vergader en te betoog in die Interim Grondwet van 1993. Dit is opgevolg deur die verordening van die Byeenkomstewet en die erkenning en beskerming van die reg om te vergader en betoog in die Grondwet van die Republiek van Suid-Afrika, 1996. Die definisie van `n byeenkoms ingevolge artikel 1 van die Byeenkomstewet en die verhouding met die privaatbesit van eiendom het hernude aandag ontvang toe studente-protes regoor die land in 2015 toegeneem het. Hierdie toename in studenteprotes het gelei tot die hoofnavorsingsvraag van hierdie tesis, naamlik of die definisie van `n byeenkoms ingevolge die Byeenkomstewet strek tot eiendom in privaatbesit. As dit wel die geval is, is die tweede vraag of die Byeenkomstewet `n ontneming van eiendom in stryd met artikel 25(1) van die Grondwet veroorloof. Met betrekking tot die eerste vraag, dui regspraak en akademiese kommentaar daarop dat die Byeenkomstewet inderdaad tot eiendom in privaat besit strek. Die Byeenkomstewet sal egter slegs tot eiendom in privaat besit strek as dit toeganklik is vir die publiek, en dit oop of nie beperk tot die mure van `n gebou is nie. Die tweede vraag het `n uitgebreide ontleding van regspraak en akademiese kommentaar op artikel 25(1) van die Grondwet vereis. Daar is bevind dat slegs privaateienaars op artikel 25(1) kan staatmaak en die aksies wat tipies met byeenkomste geassosieer word, sal voldoende wees vir `n byeenkoms om `n ontneming van eiendom daar te stel. Dit is makliker vir die ontneming wat deur die Byeenkomstewet toegelaat word om aan twee van die drie vereistes vir `n geldige ontneming te voldoen: dat die ontneming plaasvind in terme van `n wet van algemene toepassing en dat dit prosedureel niearbitrêr is. Die derde van hierdie vereistes – dat die ontneming substansieel niearbitrêr moet wees – was meer ingewikkeld, omdat die bepaling van die substantiewe nie-arbitrêrheid afhang van die feite van elke saak. In hierdie verband moet die howe substantiewe nie-arbitrêrheid bepaal met betrekking tot die kompleksiteit van grondwetlike regte wat tydens `n byeenkoms aangewend word, maar van nog meer betekenis, die belangrikheid om `n byeenkoms in die noue nabyheid van eiendom in privaat besit te hou. Hierdie tesis het dus tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat die behoefte vir `n nuwe raamwerk vir die regulering van byeenkomste in die nuwe grondwetlike bestel nodig was, veral as gevolg van die wyse waarop protes voor en tydens apartheid gereguleer was. Die Byeenkomstewet dien as hierdie nuwe wetgewende raamwerk, en strek tot byeenkomste wat in sekere omstandighede op eiendom in privaat besit plaasvind. Daar is bevind dat terwyl die Byeenkomstewet `n ontneming van eiendom mag toelaat, hierdie ontneming geregverdig kan word, afhangend van die inhoud van die byeenkoms self.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103940
This item appears in the following collections: